SHERIDAN — The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture declared Sheridan and other Wyoming counties eligible for disaster assistance in the form of government loans earlier this week.
Farmers and ranchers may qualify for the emergency loans based on financial losses incurred as the result of drought conditions that began April 2. Farm loan specialist Becky Gerlach of the Wyoming Farm Service Agency said a new disaster declaration process has made it easier for ranchers to receive aid after having been adversely affected by extreme weather conditions.
“They’ve really streamlined that in an effort to get help out to people in a more efficient way,” she said.
To qualify for production loss loans, applicants must have suffered at least a 30 percent loss of their normal production per animal or acre. Production losses are calculated from an average of the three years immediately preceding the disaster year and may be issued for up to 100 percent of the total calculated loss.
Per program regulations, the final dollar amount available to qualified producers cannot exceed the sum of the physical loss or $500,000, whichever is less.
FSA emergency loans are available only to operators of family-sized farms and operators who are unable to obtain credit elsewhere.
Gerlach said determining which properties qualify as “family-sized farms” depends largely on the scale of other agricultural operations in the immediate area.
“In ranch country it would be larger than in, say, a farming community,” she said. “It’s subjective.”
Loan applications are due to the Farm Service Agency by Dec. 10. For further information, farmers and ranchers are encouraged to contact local FSA officials.
“If they need assistance, it sure doesn’t hurt to go in and contact their local FSA office,” Gerlach said. “The snow will hopefully help us out, but we’re here to help.”
Other primary disaster counties include Albany, Big Horn, Campbell, Carbon, Converse, Crook, Fremont, Goshen, Hot Springs, Johnson, Laramie, Natrona, Park, Platte, Sublette, Sweetwater, Washakie and Weston.
Lincoln, Teton and Uinta counties are considered contiguous to the primary designated counties and are therefore also eligible for aid.